As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Greg Brown.
Greg brings over 20 years of leadership experience in enterprise software to his role as CEO at Reflektive. Prior to Reflektive, Greg held senior executive roles at Blackhawk Network, Achievers, Mindjet, PivotLink and WebEx. Greg is passionate about fostering an inspirational culture driven by a “team-first” mentality, with the ultimate goal of providing a world-class experience for “Reflektors” and customers. When Greg isn’t working he can usually be found on a baseball or football field watching or coaching one of his boys.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started my career in technology sales at WebEx when it was a startup, and saw the company go through ups and downs with the dotcom bubble, massive sales growth and, ultimately, an acquisition by Cisco. I had the opportunity to run EMEA sales and go-to-market strategy, which put me in Amsterdam for a few years. From there, I joined a few early-stage startups and then transitioned to later-stage companies like Achievers and Blackhawk. Now, I’m at Reflektive and I couldn’t be more excited by how we are helping customers empower their teams to perform and impact employee growth in a real way.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
In a past sales leadership role, I was focused on improving our win rates and decided that the way we would accomplish this was to improve the negotiation skills of our team. What I missed was that we were not understanding our buyers’ needs clearly enough. We adapted quickly, and took a step back to better understand what they needed as they were looking to bring new technology into their business. Our takeaway was that we needed to bring our services team in earlier on in the buying process to enhance trust and credibility that we were the right partner.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I’m a huge fan of The Table Group, particularly “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” and “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni. At our offsite this year, we leveraged a number of their operating models. We’ve implemented many core principles from The Table Group at Reflektive today.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
It comes down to being hyper-focused on the stuff that matters the most. At Reflektive, we use a goal methodology that involves setting our Wildly Important Goal (WIG) and determining our lead measures for the company. Once you define the most important thing, you can work up, down and across your organization toward company alignment. It becomes clear what you should say “no” to, so you can say “yes” to the stuff that gets you working toward your WIG.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I focus on balancing work and family. I schedule time with my boys just like I do with my team. I hold team office hours and I hold school office hours. It structures my day and keeps me present.
I worry about filling the months ahead with enriching activities for my sons, though. With camps and baseball canceled, they’re on hold like all of us. We’re making things work, scheduling home baseball practice and having a makeshift garage gym so they aren’t losing all the hard work they’ve put in during this time.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Challenges come daily, but we’re doing our best to adapt and push through. Top of mind:
- Our people: Some employees are sheltering in place alone and others have come into additional home responsibilities. We’re staying mindful of the unexpected pressures. Our team has risen to the challenge and gotten creative with virtual social hours and events to stay connected.
- Onboarding new employees: Onboarding has traditionally been in-person, and even those who worked from a home office flew out to our headquarters. We’ve brought on a number of key hires during shelter in place, so we’re ensuring they get up to speed and integrated with the team. In light of this, we introduced a “meet me” section in our all hands where new hires share a bit more about themselves and what they are working on with the entire company.
- Workforce planning: We came off an exciting executive offsite and put together aggressive goals, so we’re re calibrating as a company. We’ve also reallocated roles internally, and people have really risen to the occasion by taking on new roles and responsibilities.
When we first went remote in mid-March, my team executed an employee sentiment survey asking employees what they needed and how the company could support them. It gave us great insights and actionable steps we could take immediately. We made the sentiment survey available to our customers, and pulled together a great bench marking report.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the corona virus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
It’s hard with so much uncertainty, but I try to stay thankful and grateful for everything we have and can control, and try to let the other stuff go. We’re much more adaptable than we think, and in times of adversity I strongly believe we’ll come together and rise to the challenge.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Companies that survive and thrive will be the ones that adapted, got creative and operated efficiently. Your people will remain your biggest asset. When you invest in your people, the rest will follow. Employee engagement, collaboration and beingconnected will continue to be at the forefront for every organization, regardless your industry, size or location.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
It goes back to how we work. We’ll see companies that didn’t offer remote opportunities become more flexible and companies that embraced flexible work continue to do so, and even more so.
In the past, I wanted my team to be in-person and together for meetings. We’re social beings and there’s benefit for us to be together. This whole shelter in place has been an experiment and now we’re enabling employees to work from locations that keep them safe and productive.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
We’re working to guide our customers, support business continuity and put their people in the best position to thrive in the post-COVID economy. When you invest in your people, the rest will follow. We’re building more data and insights into performance management — to inform managers, predict performance and automate processes.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I’d encourage you to listen to your customers, specifically their pain points and what they are solving for. From there, take a consultative approach and offer counsel.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Today, I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” — Jerry Rice
It boils down to drive and work ethic. If you are willing to put in the effort, preparation and work, you’ll be putting yourself in the best position to succeed.
How can our readers further follow your work?